|J A Z Z W O R D R E V I E W S
|Reviews that mention Sabine Ercklentz
Mikroton CD 14/15/16
In the Beginning 1963-64
Drums and Dreams
Intakt CD 197
Connie Crothers - David Arner
Spontaneous Suite for Two Pianos
Something In The Air: Multiple Disc Sets for the Adventurous
By Ken Waxman
Defying doomsayers who predicted the death of the LP, the CD’s disappearance appears oversold. True music collectors prefer the physical presence and superior fidelity of a well-designd CD package and important material continues to released. Partisans of advanced music, for instance, can choose any one of these sets. The only saxophonist to be part of saxophonist John Coltrane’s working group, tenorist Pharoah Sanders is celebrated for his own highly rhythmic Energy Music. In the Beginning 1963-64 ESP-Disk ESP-4069, a four CD-package highlight his steady growth. Besides Sanders’ first album as leader, very much in the freebop tradition, as part of quintet of now obscure players, the other previously released sounds capture Sanders’ recordings in the Sun Ra Arkestra. More valuable is a CD of unissued tracks where Sanders asserts himself in quartets led by cornetist Don Cherry or Canadian pianist Paul Bley. The set is completed by short interviews with all of the leaders. Oddly enough, although they precede his solo debut, Sanders’ playing is most impressive with Bley and Cherry. With more of a regularized beat via bassist David Izenson and drummer J.C. Moses, Cherry’s tracks advance melody juxtaposition and parallel improvisations with Sanders’ harsh obbligato contrasted with the cornetist’s feisty flourishes; plus the darting lines and quick jabs of pianist Joe Scianni provides an unheralded pleasure. Bley’s economical comping and discursive patterning lead the saxophonist into solos filled with harsh tongue-twisting lines and jagged interval leaps. With Izenson’s screeching assent and drummer Paul Motion’s press rolls the quartet plays super fast without losing the melodic thread. Sun Ra is a different matter. Recorded in concert, the sets include helpings of space chants such as “Rocket #9” and “Next Stop Mars”; a feature for Black Harold’s talking log drums; showcases for blaring trombones, growling trumpets; plus the leader’s propulsive half-down-home and half-outer-space keyboard. Sharing honking and double-tonguing interludes with Arkestra saxists Pat Patrick and Marshall Allen, Sanders exhibits his characteristic stridency. Enjoyable for Sun Ra’s vision which is spectacular and jocular, these tracks suggest why the taciturn Sanders soon went on his own.
Partially in reaction to vocifeous American players like Sanders, by the 1970s European innovators developed a spacious and subdued take on improvisation. This can be sampled via the solo work of Swiss percussionist Pierre Favre, a model of taste and restraint on Drums and Dreams Intakt CD 197 is. Overall it’s 1972’s Abanaba which is the defining masterwork, with 1970’s Drum Conversation and 1978’s Mountain Wind, the build up and elaboration of maturity. Favre has such command of the sonorous properties of his expanded kit that he can use approximations of tones from unusual sources such as guiro, conches, unlathed cymbals, thunder sheets plus a regular kit without bombast or showiness. A track such as Kyoto is a fascinating duet between kettle drum and tuned gongs, expanded by Theremin-like resonations; while “Gerunonius” is an essay in abrasion, as textures created by sawing with a bow on drum rims are integrated with shakes, pops and pulls. “Roro” fastens on triple sticking at supersonic speeds, producing ringing tones from log drums, cymbals and gongs, while the final track demonstrates how aggression can be paced as bell trees ping and snares sizzle. CD1 establishes a framework for juxtapositions, with silences integrated with kinetic paradiddles and ruffs. Sounding at times like multiple players, Favre’s distinctive sounds are likely to arise by twisting mallets on aluminum bars as from blunt whacks on oversized gongs. By 1978, his rhythmic palate had expanded so, that he could replicate the sound of a telephone bell ring, Chinese temple bell with equal facility and without any loss in power.
This mixture of delicacy and strength is expanded to its pianistic limits on Spontaneous Suite for Two Pianos Rogueart R0G-037 These four CDs capture an entire recording session beginning with the evocative acceleration from feathery chording to anvil-like kinetic pressure on CD1, track 1, and conclude with key-clipping near player-piano continuum on CD4, track 7. Anyone who follow dual keyboardist like Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia or Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson will be staggered by the work here. Completely improvised, the nine interlocking suites expose almost all variations of what can be extracted from 166 keys. Technical wizardry plus jazz inflections are apparent in the playing of Connie Crothers and David Arner, yet focussed reductionism as well as spontaneity is also on tap. Piano guru Lennie Tristano’s most accomplished student, New York-based Crothers has recorder with jazzmen like drummer Max Roach. Up-state New York’s Arner is associated with choreographers such as Meredith Monk. Playing side-by-side with layered chords, palindromes or in counterpoint, the two evoke many aspects of piano literature while creating their own. For instance “The Hoofer” which bounces and taps as a terpsichorean fantasia is followed by “Blues and the Moving Image”. Despite low-pitched glissandi, this blues is polyrhythmic, depending on a dusting of high-frequency tremolo to provide the necessary emotion. “The Reckoning” is meditative and linear, while “Density 88X2” moves from jocular patterns to blunt syncopation. An extended sequence like “City Rhapsody” may unroll staccatissimo with soundboard rumbles and ringing cadenzas in equal measures, but it never unravels or loses connectivity. Overall the real connections this duo exhibits is with their own histories. Basso notes on “Swing Migration” and “Fool” both unearth Tristanto-like themes among the cumulative cascades and pitch-sliding vibrations.
With the German capital now home to a mass of creative musicians, it takes 40 selections on three-CD anthology Echtzeitmusik Berlin Miikroton CD 14/15/16) to try to define the scene. Although currents of free jazz, notated music, punk-rock and all sorts of electronic programming are universally accepted, echtzeitmusik is defined differently by each innovator. For instance the long pauses and foreshortened breaths from Robin Hayward’s microtonal tuba and intermittent plinks from Morten Olsen’s rotating bass drum on “Deep Skin” may come from the same reductionist base as “Versprechen” which mutates piano strings strums by Andera Neumann with linear trumpet breaths from Sabine Ercklentz. But the studio collage that’s Annette Krebs’ “In-between”, mutating ring-modulator whooshes, music samples and layered voices has little in common except density with Antoine Chessex’s “Errances” which inflates a single saxophone’s tremolo timbres to near organ-like cascades. So what defines the sounds? The key may be “Blues No. 5” by Perlonex. Guitar feedback, turntable scratches plus drum smacks and electronic quivers reach an intensity that equals the emotionalism of a blues singer. Consequently honesty and innovation supersede musical forms. Echtzeitmusik Berlin allows the listener to sample and choose.
-- For Whole Note Vol. 18 #4
December 15, 2012
Herbal International Concrete Disc 1001
Nate Wooley & Paul Lytton
Creak Above 33
Sound sources expressing the properties of wood, strings, brass and skin inform the interactions which characterize these notable CDs. Yet as definitions of acceptable resonance and intonation continue to evolve, improvisations such as these start with more of a clean slate then others.
Case in point Lalienation, which showcases five digital sound processed improvisations created by Sabine Ercklentz, whose minimalist trumpeting wavers between extended techniques and almost standard tones, and Andrea Neumann, whose specially designed, keyboard-less piano frame is played with pick-ups and preparations. Both Berlin-based the two have spent almost a decade performing as a duo or with other microtonal experimentalists such as trumpeter Axel Dörner and percussionist Burkhard Beins.
Created after some mutually satisfying duo tours, Creak Above 33 unites young American trumpeter Nate Wooley, whose prior sessions encompass everything from absolute noise-microtonalism with guitarist Chris Forsyth to Jazz-improv with trombonist Steve Swell and cellist Daniel Levin. His partner, British percussionist Paul Lytton, has been involved with improvised sounds for more than 40 years, most notably in the bands of bassist Barry Guy and saxophonist Evan Parker. While no one is going to confuse this disc – where the drummer also manipulates electronics and the trumpeter an amplifier – with a Miles Davis-Philly Joe Jones record, a basic link to the ongoing Jazz-improv tradition still exists.
Wooley’s staccato growls and plunger burps have obvious antecedents, and by this time Lytton’s historic meticulous exposure of rebounds, scrapes, chain-rattling and bell pealing have entered into the everyday vocabulary of many progressive drummers. However the processed intensity which electronics bring to the percussionist’s squeals, ruffs and rustles, as well as the trumpeter’s mixing of fortissimo and lyrical curved notes plus the blowing of unaccented air from the bell, confirm this duo’s individualistic strategies.
From the very beginning the chromatic interface reveals a few incomparable concepts as when Lytton uses ratcheting rubs and ricocheting power from the drum rims to meet Wooley’s downward slurs and barely there breaths. With ring-modulator-like peals appearing in and out of focus as a backdrop, Lytton abrasively scratches a drum stick against an unlathed cymbal as Wooley drags his trumpet’s mouthpiece against an amp for greater friction. Somehow a Hawaiian slack guitar-like twang enters the mix as the trumpeter alters his buzzing timbres to grace notes. Soon shaky doits and rubato grace notes quiver sympathetically alongside the drummer’s chain shaking and ratamacues. As whispering electronic oscillations accelerate to shrill signal processing, the two bring the session to a satisfying end with bata-drum-like strokes and staccato valve-les peeps.
Pauses and electronics are more prominent on the Ercklentz-Neumann session, which itself is committed to prolonged silences, sibilant and yawning tones forced from the trumpet plus echoing, distant wave forms. From the beginning what appears to be the sound of snooker balls colliding and rude Bronx cheers are exposed alongside twanging piano strings. Dilated, watery burrs and curved air from the brass player are barely heard before being shattered into distanced wisps by an undercurrent of patched flanges, granular tone stretching and wiggling voltage drones.
By the CD’s final track the timbres are embellished with different samples of muted voices as well as parallel broken-octave improvising where a previously recorded lick is audible alongside one played live. Following the trumpeter’s valve taps and tongue rolls, a single stopped string resonates with mallet-propelled power. Surprisingly enough, Ercklentz’ disassociated buzzes and nasal cadenzas then move on from a climax mixed with vocal snatches to suddenly blossom into a bouncy, capriccio-liked melody with input from the sampled and the sentient players. Layered into the result are percussive wood pats and thumps.
While that fleeting interface may suggest that tradition-oriented tendencies exist in the Ercklentz-Neumann duet as well as the one from Wooley and Lytton, innovative experimentation characterizes both sessions. Self-described traditionalists should likely steer clear, but those who yearn for innovative ideas will probably be fascinated by either or both CDs.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Creak: 1. The Mbala Effect 2. The Gentle Sturgeon 3. Filtering the Fogweed 4. The Lonely Fisherman
Personnel: Creak: Nate Wooley (trumpet and amplifier) and Paul Lytton (percussion and live electronics)
Track Listing: Lalienation: 1. Bialetti 2. Lalienation 3. Ortlaut 4. Passer Par Tout 5. Twin Quartet 6. Lalienation [Mpeg4]
Personnel: Lalienation: Sabine Ercklentz (trumpet and electronics) and Andrea Neumann (piano frame and electronics)
December 4, 2010
SABINE ERCKLENTZ/ANDREA NEUMANN
TONY BUCK/AXEL DÖRNER
Durch Und Durch
TES/Vitamin TES CD0103
Well it had to happen eventually and it finally has: the emergence of trumpeters taking Berlin brassman Axel Dörners microtonal sound sculpture as a base on which to build their own improvisations.
Expanding in the 1990s from a Free Jazz base Dörner has gradually concentrated his efforts on an idiosyncratic melange of minimal techniques that neatly translate electro-acoustic elements without electronic instruments. For the past little while, he and Boston trumpeter Greg Kelley operated in similar spheres, mostly apart, but sometimes in the same group, as the Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis of the style. Now, as OBERFLÄCHEBSPANNUNG demonstrates, Berlin-based Sabine Ercklentz is another brass player to adopt the concept.
Someone who has played in The United Women's Orchestra as well as with salsa and jazz bands, Ercklentz, is a much more in-your-face soloist. Shes sort of a Lee Morgan to Dörners Gillespie. Interestingly enough, shes paired with German inside piano specialist Andrea Neumann here, who has played alongside Dörner in larger groups like the No Spaghetti Edition, BSC and Phosphor.
On the other hand, Dörners duo partner on DURCH UND DURCH is The Necks drummer Tony Buck. Now Berlin-based, the Australian adds an Antipodean intent to this European genre as well as real percussion timbres that contrast with Neumanns faux percussion on the other disc.
Consisting of one 40-minute improvisation, DURCH UND DURCH is also a lower-key affair than OBERFLÄCHEBSPANNUNG. Comfortable with one anothers textures, there are times that all sounds seem to have been put through a food processor to create multi-tonal, blended colors. At the top it even takes a while to realize that one sound is that of pure air being passed through the trumpet without depressing the valves. Is this a version of Arnold Schoenbergs Klangfarbenmelodie?
Between silences, intermittent drum top resonation and the scrape of a drumstick across cymbal tops soon detach themselves from the sine wave timbres created by the trumpeter. So do the sounds of chains and other unattached percussion being rolled and spun along drum tops. Added to the mix are static-impregnated tones and a secondary hiss from circuitry, presaging a midpoint exhibition from Buck that replicates a subway train entering a busy station -- clattering along the tracks
Later, as computer-generated waveform loops threaten to take over the foreground, wire brush constrain on cymbal tops maintains the human element in what could be a modulator completing its cycle. When machine-like buzzing threatens to become stentorian, the rolling of unselected cymbals on the ground and glottal, chromatic growls redirect the acoustic output. Finally, as Buck worries a persistent bicycle bell-like tone, Dörner completes the piece as he begun it: with a guttural, cavernous expelling of air.
When Pünktlich and Der kleine farmer, the other CDs first two tracks, follow one another seamlessly, it almost seems as if OBERFLÄCHEBSPANNUNG will be another DURCH UND DURCH. It isnt. But neither is the piano-trumpet expression something that would be familiar to followers of Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins duos, or one between Cecil Taylor and Bill Dixon.
Unlike all those players, and with the use of electronics (Ercklentz) and a mixing desk (Neumann), the duo here deliberately ignore the pianism and brassiness of their respective instruments. Both become simple -- or maybe more properly complex -- sound sources, nothing more.
On the first tune, for example, sounds from what seems to be the spinning of an automated circular tool in a cavernous vault are broken up with internal trumpet blows that more resemble reed tongue slaps than what can be created with a brass mouthpiece. Chirping vibrations then push into the forefront, vying for aural space with rumbling tones that could be pinball flippers or wood sawing gestures.
The second piece finds fluttering modulations from the piano harp evolving with the mixing desk to tiny cross wire interfaces and the tones of a spinning CD player. In response, Ercklentz creates baby animal whimpers that expand into jackhammer sonics as she scrapes the trumpet bell with the mike. While she whinnies chromatically fingered tones, Neumann creates celeste-like plucked string counterpoint.
Pivotal to their expression, though are the unique timbres on Rost, the nearly 12-minute longest track. Neumann scrapes and skims along the speaking length of the piano innards, abrasively vibrating the overtones so the mixing desk and electronics transform the tone into that of a string section. Interrupting with falsetto buzzes -- also extended with electronics -- Ercklentzs loops eventually interact with the pianos mechanized crashes and scrapes. Together they suggest how Miles Davis-like choked valve effects would meet percussive tones, which in the pianists hands resonate like a slap bass amplified to the nth degree. Building to a miasmic crescendo, the sound is cut off abruptly as if a knife had severed the musical feed.
Gestures such as that prove that there are plenty of surprises left to expose from the output of extended trumpet techniques. And Ercklentz is joining Dörner and others to express them.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Ober: 1. Pünktlich 2. Der kleine farmer 3. Pruh 4. Rost 5. Oberflächenspannung
Personnel: Ober: Sabine Ercklentz (trumpet and electronics); Andrea Neumann (inside piano and mixing desk)
Track Listing: Durch: 1. Durch
Personnel: Durch: Axel Dörner (trumpet and electronics); Tony Buck (drums and percussion)
August 16, 2004